Thursday, August 23, 2012


Berries on a Live Oak? No, not really.
It took me an awfully long time to fall in love with gardening -- more than forty years, in fact. It's no coincidence that my transformation took place right around the same time that a new next-door neighbor introduced me to perennials and the whole concept of an ever-changing garden, as opposed to  the well pruned evergreen shrubbery and puddles of pansies that I grew up with. The old way was always neat and tidy, but oh so static and boring. Her way was exciting, and gave me a thousand reasons to step outside and go exploring, instead of just glancing through the window to see if the lawn needed mowing or hedges needed boxing. Now there is always something new or different to see. Always seasonal changes to look forward to. Take these trees, for instance. If I had been glancing out the window, as of yore, I might never have noticed that my oak trees seemed to be sprouting beautiful, coral colored berries! And not just a few, but millions!

Upon closer inspection, I realized they weren't berries. They were tiny colorful galls attached to the bottoms of all the leaves. Galls are formed much the way an oyster creates a pearl. When a wasp injects a secretion or lays its eggs on a leaf, something in the tree reacts to this irritant, and forms a protective casing around it. The casing actually protects the eggs until the insect matures and is ready to make its escape.

The big round ball in the lower right corner is the type of gall I am used to seeing, and the little hole shows where the wasp made its exit. All these colorful tiny galls? Well, that was newly discovered treasure for me -- something I had never seen before, which warranted investigation! Luckily, an article came out in the newspaper right about then, explaining what they were and that they were not harmful to our trees. It said the biggest problem with gall-infested plants was that they may seem "unsightly." Unsightly? I think they are down right bee-you-tee-full!


Jeans 'n Tshirt said...

EMBRACING I love love that word and think "wow i love that word" every time I hear it! We even lived in texas for a 2 year bit (not much to a real texan but i am Texas PROUD because of it)

beautiful collections and colors and words

Hill Country Hippie said...

J'nT - that's great! Then perhaps you can help spread the word that not all Texans are loudmouthed eejits!

alexa said...

I'm with you - they're stunning!

Hill Country Hippie said...

Alexa -- guess I'll have to try my hand a sketching those in my "field notes", though I'm still terribly intimidated by anything more than simple leaf shapes!